Purple willow herb
Vascular – Native
Dicotyledonous Herbs other than Composites
The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.
2n = 36
Current conservation status
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2017 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2012 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: By Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, John W. Barkla, Shannel P. Courtney, Paul D. Champion, Leon R. Perrie, Sarah M. Beadel, Kerry A. Ford, Ilse Breitwieser, Ines Schönberger, Rowan Hindmarsh-Walls, Peter B. Heenan and Kate Ladley.
2012 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon | Qualifiers: Sp
Previous conservation statuses
2009 | At Risk – Naturally Uncommon
2004 | Sparse
Endemic. South Island Mt Cook Region and eastern Otago (Mt Earnslaw, Hectors Col, West Matukituki, Pisa and Rock & Pillar Ranges)
A high altitude alpine species occupying sites between 1300-1850 m in elevation. It is a species of unstable to fairly stable screes, fine grained gravels lodged within boulderfalls, and on occasional a rupestral dwelling on shaded ledges and cliff faces.
Decumbent, glabrous to glabrescent somewhat succulent perennial herb. Stems 40-200 mm long, distinctly purple-black, sometimes rooting at nodes. Petiole 1-17 mm long, fleshy. Leaves 4-16 x 3-8 mm, dark green, opposite, rather crowded, firmly fleshy to almost succulent, dark green, broadly elliptic to rotund, obtuse to rounded at apex, base broadly cuneate to rounded, margins entire, or obscurely serrulate with up to 4 blunt teeth on each side. Floweras solitary in leaf axils, at fist pendant becoming erect in fruit. Pedicel 10-35 mm long, bright purple. Ovaries 7-13 mm long, bright purple, glabrous. Floral tube 1-1,2 mm deep, 1.5-1.8 mm diameter, glabrous. Sepals 3-4.4 x 1-1.3 mm, bright purple, not keeled, glabrous or with a few strigose hairs. Petals 4.5-9 x 3-4 mm, white with pink veins, flushed pink after pollination, notch 1-1.8 mm deep. Anthers 0.8-0.9 x 0.4-0.5 mm, yellow. Long filaments 2-2.8 mm long, short 0.8-1.8 mm long, white. Style 1-1.4 mm, white, stigma 1.5-2 x 0.6-0.8 mm, white, clavate. Capsule 12-40 mm long, purple, glabrous, erect, pedicle elongating,10-65 mm long. Seeds 1-1.2 x 0.4-0.5 mm, brown, papillose, coma 4-6 mm, white, caducous.
A distinctive species recognised immediately by the rather succulent, fleshy, thick-set, dark green with dark purple underside leaves 4-16 mm long, purple-black stems, and purple capsules. In its high alpine habitat it is frequently found in association with the similar E. prophyrium which has a pink flush to the upper leaf surface and a curved pink rather than straight, erect, purple capsule.
November - January
November - April
Minute pappate seeds are wind dispersed (Thorsen et al., 2009).
Unknown. Has been cultivated in the past and probably does well in an alpine house.
A naturally uncommon, narrow range endemic of high altitude habitats. There is no evidence that it has ever been threatened by browsing animals.
epilobium: From the Greek epi- ‘upon’ and lobos ‘a pod’, the flowers appearing to be growing on the seed pod.
Where To Buy
Not commercially available
Fact sheet prepared for NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 6 January 2008. Description adapted from Raven & Raven (1976) and Webb & Simpson (2001).
References and further reading
Raven, P.H.; Raven, T.E. 1976: The genus Epilobium in Australasia. New Zealand DSIR Bulletin 216. Wellington, Government Printer.
Thorsen, M. J.; Dickinson, K. J. M.; Seddon, P. J. 2009. Seed dispersal systems in the New Zealand flora. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 11: 285-309
Webb, C.J.; Simpson, M.J.A. 2011: Seeds of New Zealand Gymnosperms and Dicotyledons. Christchurch, Manuka Press.
Please cite as: de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of access): Epilobium purpuratum Fact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. https://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora/species/epilobium-purpuratum/ (Date website was queried)